The Curious Case of Alaskan Buttons

Recently, Anchorage earned the title of “Worst Dressed City in America.” Personally, I can see it; I’ve lived in Anchorage, and it’s a city that prides itself on a certain classless pastiche of trends that faded months ago (something tells me that bootcut jeans and popped polo collars are still quite popular in Anchorage). It’s the kind of place where ties will make you look like a jackass because your boss is wearing sweatpants and Ugg boots.

Moreover, Alaska is possibly one of the most defensive places on Earth; criticize at your peril those who’ve spent but one year prowling the badlands of the SoNo district (for those of you from the “Outside,” that’s “South of Nordstrom’s”; a kitschy and semi-retarded marketing ploy meant to fool the yuppie wives of displaced oil executives into thinking they’re not in the worst dressed city in America). Thus, I cannot say that surprise is my first emotion upon reading this rather limp-dicked editorial response in the Daily News (the other Gray Lady).

The writer argues that the pathetic stylings of the Anchorage bourgeoisie merely reflect the “spirit” of the Last Frontier:

Many Anchorage residents and other Alaskans decide how to dress based on what they want to wear and what’s comfortable, not the venue or expectations. We know how to dress for the occasion. But often we decide on the nature of the occasion for ourselves.

Going out to dinner? How do you feel tonight? Dress to the hilt or just make sure you go with a clean sweatshirt? Up to you.

That’s right: going to someone’s funeral? Black tie optional for sure; hell, as long as you’re wearing pants it’s a dressy occasion. Promotion dinner at the Petroleum Club? As long as your dick’s not hanging out you’re golden!

Essentially, Alaskans take pride in their bottom-of-the-barrel fashion ranking because it cements their view that they are somehow above the concerns of everyday appearance, and thus better and perhaps more unique than your average “Outsider.”

However, a certain sensitivity to Outside opinion is present in every Alaskan, and this recent dubious honor exposes a common deep-seated insecurity: that Alaskans are but poseurs, no different in their attentive inattention to detail than any bearded Brooklynite hipster man-child.

Thus, the sweatpants and Ugg boots become a signifier of a deeper commitment; they are a costume, a uniform, an identity. Sweatpants fuel the fire of the Hegelian dialectic; in them a consciousness is born, and it fears the Outside. When you criticize you sear the raw nerve that is the Alaskan identity, and you kick the puppy that is their subconscious.

But perhaps worst of all you force from them a flaccid rebuttal that contains the seeds of the truth that they fear the most: “Alaska Girls Kick Ass” is twee as fuck, and they Goddamn well know it.

So kill the bullshit pretense, and for Christ’s sake stop wearing sweatpants to Simon’s.

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10 thoughts on “The Curious Case of Alaskan Buttons

    • True, when it’s very cold outside you want to dress warmly, which generally means no boat shoes, madras, or Nantucket red club shorts (although you will see this in Anchorage on a 40 degree winter day). However, function and form can peacefully coexist; when I worked in Anchorage I wore a wool topcoat, nice shoes, ties, and warm scarves. And I walked to work (45 minutes in sub-zero temperatures sometimes) in my topcoat and scarf and was just fine. And moreover I looked like a fucking boss!

      Now, if you’re working on an oil rig, being concerned with fashion is idiotic; your clothes should be warm and safe. But when you’re not on that oil rig, wearing bunny boots and dirty Carhartt’s to a nice dinner becomes less about function and more about maintaining your image. And in that sense, you become no different from some Urkel-dressed Bushwick hipster.

      Not to mention the fact that it can be cold as shit in New York City, Boston, Chicago, and numerous other cities where dress codes are more socially rigorous.

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